Archive for July, 2010

Veggin’ Out Lo Mein

My daughter would eat vegetable lo mein everyday if she could.  I’ve packed it in her lunch at least three times a week since our CSA started up about a month ago.  I even made this in the morning in about as long as it took the water to boil…

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Peanut oil

2 Tbsp Sesame oil

3 Tbsp Soy or Tamari Sauce

8-12 oz. of any kind of noodle, but my kids love the actual chinese or lo mein noodles

1-2 cloves garlic

Some kind of onion:  3-4 green (favorite), cut into ½” pieces or any other kind, chopped

Small piece (about ½ inch) ginger, minced – optional

Then… here comes the “kitchen sink” part…

Bok choy or napa cabbage, sprouts, thinly sliced carrots, peppers of any kind, mushrooms, greens, any kind of pea, green beans, cherry tomatoes, corn, squash…

Boil water for noodles.  Meanwhile, heat peanut oil in large wok.  Add garlic, onion, and ginger.  Stir and cook until softened and fragrant.  Add the “harder” vegetables next:  carrots, cabbage or bok choy stalks.  Let those cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.  Add rest of vegetables and 1 Tbsp soy sauce.  Cook through, stirring almost constantly.

Cook noodles.  They should be done in a matter of several minutes.  Drain (saving water for compost!) and toss with sesame oil.  Add the noodles and the remaining soy to the wok of vegetables.  Top with unsalted peanuts for fun and yum!

Warm Beet, Beans, and Greens Salad

1 bunch of beets w/ greens – about a pound

1 can of cannellini beans, drained

1 small head of escarole or raddichio

olive oil

Dressing

2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic

Separate the beets from the greens, wash both, removing the stems from the greens (compost!).

Boil beets a lightly salted water in a medium saucepan until tender, about 20 – 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute beet greens and cannellini beans in 1-2 tbsp olive oil until greens are just wilted.

When beets are tender, drain (save water for compost! or plants!).  When just warm enough to handle, peel off skins.  Skins should slip off pretty easily with a pinch of your fingers.  Thinly slice beets.

Toss beets, greens, and beans together with escarole and salt and pepper to taste.

My husband also threw some goat cheese on his!  Enjoy!

An Afternoon to Remember

My kids laugh at me and my excitement for my weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. They’ve each been to the farm with me on a Friday afternoon to pick up my crate of fresh, local, organic, load of nature (can you see why they laugh?).  They think it’s great, but I guess my excitement is a little over-the-top. Since their first visit, they don’t feel compelled to join me on my 5 minute drive down the road every week.

Today, I picked up summer squash, peppers, beets, fava beans, cucumbers, swiss chard, peas, red romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and a bunch of herbs.  I kept the fava beans, parsley, swiss chard, and beets out, loaded everything else into the fridge, and got to work.

I put two large pots of water on the stove, cleaned the beets, beet greens and swiss chard, poured a glass of wine and went out on the patio to shell the beans.  To my great elation, my daughter Emily joined me.  I soaked up the whole experience: shelling beans, a late sunny Friday afternoon, a cool breeze, music from Emily’s iPod, and talking to her.  To me, this was a magical half hour.  She’s so busy at 15.  Time like this doesn’t happen nearly enough to soothe my soul.  And without fava beans to shell, it might not have happened at all.

When we finished and the two pots of water were boiling, we went inside and dumped our pile of beans in one pot, and the de-greened beets in the other.  The beets would take 40 minutes or so (I was pre-preparing them for another day this week), but the beans would be done in 5.  And when they were, I rinsed them in cold water, put another pot of water on the stove, brought the beans to the kitchen table, and Emily and I slipped the beans from their skins.

Now this may seem like an arduous process (and once their skins are removed, I’m still not done), but the process became the point of it all.  Sure we were looking forward to dinner, but the making of our dinner held its own rewards.

And so, countless beans and skins later, the beets boiling, the second pot almost ready, Emily finished the last few beans while I chopped garlic and shallots and fresh parsley, iPod music still playing, us still talking.

In a large skillet, I steamed the chard and beet greens.  I poured two kinds of pasta (I didn’t have enough of just one) in the pot of newly boiling, salted water, heated olive oil in another pan with the shallots and garlic, then beans, white wine, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, shiitake mushrooms, and parsley.  Some salt and pepper on the greens, pasta done and drained and tossed with mushrooms and beans, and it was time for dinner.

I’d never had fava beans before.  All I knew of them was that Hannibal Lecter ate them with someone’s liver and a nice chianti.  But I couldn’t get enough of the pasta or our time together at the dinner table.  I hated for it to end.

As I cleaned up dishes and finished the beets, peeling and slicing and storing them in the fridge, I considered how lucky I am and how good this day had been.  Food was the reason I had this time with my family.  Fava beans had given me an afternoon that felt right in every way.

As Emily and I were sitting on the patio, the start of our fava bean process, I asked her if, when she’s away at college, she would remember this afternoon and how we shelled fava beans.  She said she didn’t know.

That’s okay.  I will.